Antifungal free fatty acids: A Review

Fatty acids are known to possess antibacterial, antimalarial and antifungal activity. The development of resistance of microbes, including fungi and yeasts, towards antimicrobial agents already in use, necessitates the search for alternative antimicrobials, including fatty acids and their derivatives (e.g. methylated and hydroxyl fatty acids). Although fatty acids may not be as effective as chemical fungicides, they pose less environmental risks. They are not only biodegradable, but exhibit a high degree of specificity. In addition, fatty acids are accepted food additives and importantly, pathogenic fungi are less likely to become resistant to antifungal fatty acids. The most important target of antifungal fatty acids is the cell membrane.

They cause an increase in membrane fluidity, which will result in leakage of the intracellular components and cell death. Other targets include protein synthesis, which may be inhibited by myristic acid analogues, fatty acid metabolism as well as topoisomerase activity which may be inhibited by amongst others acetylenic fatty acids.

Keywords: fatty acid; antifungal mechanism


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